Bush Administration Report on Climate Change Baffles Supporters, by Gretchen Randall

BACKGROUND: The Bush Administration’s EPA released a report, “U.S. Climate Action Report 2002” quietly last week stating that greenhouse gas emissions have “likely affected the global climate system.” To many this is a turn-about in policy by the Administration since President Bush has stated repeatedly he will not agree to the Kyoto Treaty requiring the U.S. to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions because of its dire effect on the economy.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Many distinguished scientists believe there is no scientific basis to show mankind is causing global warming or that warming is taking place.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: While the report is consistent with the President’s aims in protecting our environment in a way that will not harm the U.S. economy, it erroneously claims that human activity is responsible for climate change. NASA satellite data show that the layer of air from one to five miles above earth indicates no warming. The slight rise in surface air temperatures is mostly due to natural causes.

DISCUSSION: Most of the report is consistent with previous statements by the Bush Administration on climate change and its possible causes. The one sentence that is quoted in most news stories is, in fact, from the National Research Council report in 2001 that says “greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing global mean surface air temperature and subsurface ocean temperature to rise.” But the news reports do not included the next sentence, which says, “While the changes observed over the last several decades are likely due mostly to human activities, we cannot rule out that some significant part is also a reflection of natural variability.”

In fact, the report defines its “projections” as “potential outcomes that would be expected if some scenarios of future conditions were to come about (e.g., concerning greenhouse gas emissions).” It then goes on to tout the President’s Clean Sky Initiatives that call for voluntary reductions of emissions, tax incentives for new equipment, transferable tax credits for emissions reduction and more research funding.

However, the report’s projections outline some possible serious consequences to ecosystems such as loss of estuaries and damage to coastal areas due to rising sea levels and more damaging heat waves. Agriculture activities however, would benefit because of increased release of carbon dioxide into the air. The report projects increased yields of corn, soybeans, cotton, sorghum, sugar beets and citrus fruits while also predicting less need for irrigation. It also predicts more pesticides and herbicides may need to be used in a warmer climate unless more genetically modified crops are planted.

To access the full report: http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/publications/car.

For more on global warming, see “Questions and Answers on Global Warming” at http://www.nationalcenter.org/KyotoQuestionsAnswers.html or “Global Warming: Charges and Responses” at http://www.nationalcenter.org/Bonn2001.html.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.